Research – Natural Antimicrobials Suitable for Combating Desiccation-Resistant Salmonella enterica in Milk Powder


Some Salmonella enterica strains survive well in low-water activity (low-aw) foods and cause frequent salmonellosis outbreaks in these products. Methods are needed to overcome such desiccation-resistant Salmonella and to improve the safety of low-aw foods. Building on a recent finding, we hypothesized that natural antimicrobial food additives, which are active against cytoplasmic membrane, could overcome this desiccation resistance phenomenon, and thus, sensitize the pathogen to drying and mild processing. Food additives were screened for the ability to cause leakage of intracellular potassium ions; retention of these ions is vital for protecting Salmonella against desiccation. Two antimicrobial food additives, carvacrol and thymol, caused considerable potassium leakage from the desiccation-resistant S. enterica serovars, Tennessee and Livingstone. Thus, carvacrol and thymol were investigated for their ability to sensitize the desiccation-adapted S. enterica to heat treatment. The combined use of food additives, at their minimum inhibitory concentrations, with heat treatment at 55 °C for 15 min caused 3.1 ± 0.21 to more than 5.5 log colony forming unit (CFU)/mL reduction in desiccation-adapted S. enterica, compared to 2.4 ± 0.53–3.2 ± 0.11 log CFU/mL reduction by sole heat treatment. Carvacrol was the additive that caused the greatest potassium leakage and sensitization of Salmonella to heat; hence, the application of this compound was investigated in a food model against Salmonella Typhimurium ASD200. Addition of carvacrol at 200 or 500 ppm into liquid milk followed by spray-drying reduced the strain’s population by 0.9 ± 0.02 and 1.3 ± 0.1 log CFU/g, respectively, compared to 0.6 ± 0.02 log CFU/g reduction for non-treated spray-dried milk. Additionally, freeze-drying of milk treated with high levels of carvacrol (5000 ppm) reduced the population of Salmonella Typhimurium ASD200 by more than 4.5 log CFU/g, compared to 1.1 ± 0.4 log CFU/g reduction for the freeze-dried untreated milk. These findings suggest that carvacrol can combat desiccation-resistant S. enterica, and thus, potentially improve the safety of low-aw foods. View Full-Text

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